Lieh Yü-khâu, the surname and name of Lieh-dze, with which the first paragraph commences, have become current as the name of the Book, though they have nothing to do with any but that one paragraph, which is found also in the second Book of the writings ascribed to Lieh-dze. There are some variations in the two Texts, but they are so slight that we cannot look on them as proofs that the two passages are narratives of independent origin.
Various difficulties surround the questions of the existence of Lieh-dze, and of the work which bears his name. They will be found distinctly and dispassionately stated and discussed in the 146th chapter of the Catalogue of the Khien-lung Imperial Library. The writers seem to me to make it out that there was such a man, but they do not make it clear when he lived, or how his writings assumed their present form. There is a statement of Liû Hsiang that he lived in the time of duke Ma of Käng (B.C. 627-606); but in that case he must have been earlier than Lâo-dze himself, whom he very frequently quotes. The writers think that Lift's 'Mû of Käng' should be Mû of Lû (B.C. 409-377), which would make him not much anterior to Mencius and Kwang-dze; but this is merely an ingenious conjecture. As to the composition of his chapters, they are evidently not at first hand from Lieh, but by some one of his disciples; whether they were current in Kwang-dze's days, and be made use of various passages from them, or those passages were Kwang-dze's originally, and taken from him by the followers of Lieh-dze and added to what fragments they had of their master's teaching;--these are points which must be left undetermined.
Whether the narrative about Lieh be from Kwang-dze or not, its bearing on his character is not readily apprehended; but, as we study it, we seem to understand that his master Wû-zän condemned him as not having fully attained to the Tâo, but owing his influence with others
mainly to the manifestation of his merely human qualities. And this is the lesson which our author keeps before him, more or less distinctly, in all his paragraphs. As Lû Shû-kih. says:--
'This Book also sets forth Doing Nothing as the essential condition of the Tâo. Lieh-dze, frightened at the respect shown to him by the soup-vendors, and yet by his human doings drawing men to him, disowns the rule of the heavenly; Hwan of Käng, thinking himself different from other men, does not know that Heaven recompenses men according to their employment of the heavenly in them; the resting of the sages in their proper rest shows how the ancients pursued the heavenly and not the human; the one who learned to slay the Dragon, but afterwards did not exercise his skill, begins with the human, but afterwards goes on to the heavenly; in those who do not rest in the heavenly, and perish by the inward war, we see how the small men do not know the secret of the Great Repose; Zhâo Shang, glorying in the carriages which he had acquired, is still farther removed from the heavenly; when Yen Ho shows that the sage, in imparting his instructions, did not follow the example of Heaven in diffusing its benefits, we learn that it is only the Doing Nothing of the True Man which is in agreement with Heaven; the difficulty of knowing the mind of man, and the various methods required to test it, show the readiness with which, when not under the rule of Heaven, it seems to go after what is right, and the greater readiness with which it again revolts from it; in Khao-fû, the Correct, we have one indifferent to the distinctions of rank, and from him we advance to the man who understands the great condition appointed for him, and is a follower of Heaven; then comes he who plays the thief under the chin of the Black Dragon, running the greatest risks on a mere peradventure of success, a resolute opponent of Heaven; and finally we have Kwang-dze despising the ornaments of the sacrificial ox, looking in the same way at the worms beneath and the kites overhead, and regarding himself as quite independent
of them, thus giving us an example of the embodiment of the spiritual, and of harmony with Heaven.'
So does this ingenious commentator endeavour to exhibit the one idea in the Book, and show the unity of its different paragraphs.